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Launch of Downfall

Audio from the launch of Paul Diamond's book Downfall: The Destruction of Charles Mackay. The event took place at the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington, on 15 November 2022.

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  • 00:01 - Kevin Haunui, LAGANZ
  • 03:04 - Waiata
  • 05:05 - Nicola Legat, Massey University Press
  • 09:15 - Paul Diamond
  • 23:15 - Des Bovey
  • 30:44 - Kevin Haunui


The National Library of New Zealand hosted the launch event for Paul Diamond's book "Downfall: The Destruction of Charles Mackay," which took place on November 15, 2022. The event was co-hosted by the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ) and Massey University Press, represented by Kevin Haunui and Nicola Legat respectively. This significant occasion coincided with Courage Day, the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer, commemorating writers who have been persecuted for their work.

Kevin Haunui opened the event by highlighting the National Library's role in preserving the records of Rainbow Communities, which were instrumental for Paul Diamond's research for the book. Nicola Legat, the publisher of Massey University Press, expressed gratitude for the attendance of Paul's family, friends, and colleagues, indicating the event's popularity and the community's admiration for the author's work. The book's narrative, which has been long due for telling, delves into the life of Charles Mackay through a contemporary, queer perspective.

Paul Diamond thanked various institutions and individuals who facilitated access to crucial records and collections, enabling the book's creation. Diamond addressed the recent imposition of a 100-year privacy rule on similar records, which could hinder future historical research and underscored the importance of maintaining and accessing such archives responsibly, balancing privacy concerns with the need to remember queer histories meaningfully.

Des Bovey, the event's featured speaker, discussed Paul Diamond's book and its importance not only for the queer community but also for the city of Wanganui, where the events took place. Bovey reminisced about a 1978 ceremony in which a pink triangle was laid to honor Mackay and recounted how it unintentionally provoked local controversies and signaled a shift in Mackay's posthumous reputation. Bovey lauded the new book for its detailed narrative and historical investigation.

The event concluded with encouragements to purchase and have the book signed by Paul Diamond. The recording exemplifies the persistent effort to preserve and recount the stories of queer ancestors, celebrating progress while remaining vigilant regarding rights and freedoms. The Library's contribution to holding and sharing the resources that enabled this retelling is also acknowledged.

Concerns arose regarding the potential for obscurity due to privacy laws that could prevent future access to pertinent historical narratives. This tension between privacy and the public's right to understand its past was a recurring theme in the discussions. The event highlighted the communal effort and collaboration that goes into storytelling and recognizing our shared histories, and it acknowledged those whose resistance ensured the survival of queer stories against the forces of erasure.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

Record date:15th November 2022
Location:National Library of New Zealand, Wellington
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004694).